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CHICAGO-The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce will hold “The Green Symposium: Capturing Efficiencies In The Commercial Office” Today. The event will focus on and raise awareness for green technologies and products, as well as cutting costs, improving efficiencies and quality, and reducing risk. The Chamber maintains that while these things play a role in success in any economy, they have become crucial in this tough market.

“When times are tough, we need to start looking at efficiencies,” Claire Woolley, a speaker at the event, tells GlobeSt.com. “In a lot of ways, green equals efficiencies, and everyone is keen to cut their operating costs.” A global environmental specialist, Woolley heads Ecker Green, a business unit of Howard Ecker + Co. which provides green services to commercial office tenants looking to save money and help the planet.

Woolley says going green can start with small changes – like cutting down on electricity or eliminating use of styrofoam cups – but that such changes add up quickly. She cites clients that have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars simply by cutting back on paper usage. “There are a lot of low-cost things you can do that have a big effect on the environment and a cost savings as well,” Woolley says.

Another focus of the program will be the newly developing field of green leasing, which Woolley is intimately familiar as Howard Ecker is currently the only brokerage firm to specialize in green leasing. “Green leasing basically puts into the lease those green obligations between the landlord and the tenant,” she says. “Certain companies have sustainability goals, so it may be things like that, maybe an expanded recycling program would go into the lease. Another thing that would be in the lease is who bears the costs and who bears the benefits if a landlord decides to do an energy efficiency measure.”

The symposium will also highlight the incentives available for such office greening, for example ComEd covering the cost of lighting retrofits. “There are quite good incentives out there for energy efficiency projects for both tenant and landlord,” Woolley says. “We’re holding the symposium to tell the Chamber members what’s out there, what you can do and what are the latest things happening to make their office more energy efficient and green.”

The event will feature other executives from the real estate, legal and energy services industries, including Howard Ecker of Howard Ecker + Company, Patrick Thompson of DLA Piper, Lois Vitt Sale of NELSON, and Aaron Rasty of BlueStar Energy Services. The event will be held at the Merchandise Mart Conference Center.

“You have this administration pushing energy efficiency at the heart of greening and increasing funding for incentives, and the other push is as Generation Y comes into the workplace, they’re asking for these things,” Woolley says. “They’re not decision-makers yet, but they’re a generation that expects things to be done in a green manner, and don’t want to drink out of styrofoam cups, so they’re asking for things to be done. Given this economy, if you really want to look at saving money, greening is a really valid way to go about being more efficient with resources and doing good for the environment, and I personally think people are realizing it’s the right thing to do.”

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